A cafe in Braintree has been left thousands out of pocket after callous crooks targeted it for a fourth time.

Businesses and members of the community rallied together after Pasha Cafe, in Leather Lane, was hit by burglars.

Two thieves smashed their way into the cafe at 12.45am last Thursday while owner Hazel Bellikli was in Spain.

Mrs Bellikli, 48, said: “They smashed the front door with bricks and managed to get in.

“They took the whole till system, because without the key they can’t open it.

“They took the float, about £300 in change and four charity tins.

“It happened in September, last year and the year before.

“I don’t have a problem with anyone, I don’t understand why they did it.”

Braintree and Witham Times:

The cafe, which was voted cafe of the year by the Times’ readers earlier this year, was forced to close so police officers could recover fingerprints, losing a minimum of £600 in trade.

Staff lost a day’s wages and repair work will mean a total loss of more than £2,000.

Mrs Bellikli said: “The till was found by the local window cleaner by Oysters Fish and Chips and one of my customers found all the paperwork.

“This has happened several times, even though we are in the town centre in the heart of town and the police station is one minute away.

“We need more security in the town centre.

“I have been in Braintree ten years, no-one from the community would hurt me, I get on really well with the whole town.

“I would never believe it was someone local.”

Mrs Bellikli received nearly 50 bouquets of flowers from customers and nearby businesses, with one giving her a till to use.

Her children who helped while she flew back from Spain were also supported by businesses in the town.

The cafe was also awarded the title of best cafe by Times’ readers.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We are currently investigating reports of a burglary at Pasha café in Leather Lane, Braintree.

“We were called just after 12.45am on Thursday, November 8. Our enquiries are ongoing.”

The two men who broke in wore hoods to cover their faces. Anyone with information is asked to call Braintree police station on 101 quoting crime reference number 42/162893/18.